Monday, August 31, 2009

Coming home tomorrow`

IT'S FINAL!! Danny will be coming home to stay with us (mom & dad) Tuesday Sept. 1st.

He could have left the hospital today, but he was tired and didn't think it would be the right day yet. He hadn't had much sleep and we all know how lack of rest messes with our minds. After a nap this afternoon, he felt better and decided he needs to just do it and get out of there.

We will go to the hospital at 3:00 p.m. to get instructions, supplies and whatever else we need, then it will be off to the North country to Kaysville. His room is ready to go, plus his chair for convalescing is in the living room waiting for his arrival.

We know there will be many visitors and we encourage everyone to come to our home and see Danny. We will be learning how much he is able to take as we go, so it may be a good idea to call ahead and find out if he's up to your visit. I'm sure most of you have Danny's number, but for those that don't, you can also call our home phone 801 546 0526. Due to Judy waking up at 4:30 every morning, we'll end visiting hours at 10:00 p.m. Thanks to everyone.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Almost Home

Last Thursday, August 27th, Judy came home after seeing Danny, and was real excited. She said that there was talk about him coming home on Monday the 31st. It was hard to get our minds around that and we all thought they were premature in this decision. There were only the three of us that knew about this and Danny doubted it more than any of us. That's the reason we haven't published that information until now. He didn't want folks thinking he would be out of the hospital at a certain time and then not have it happen.

After seeing him today and assisting him while we were doing his wound care, it actually looks like a hospital exit will be a sure thing sometime this coming week. The way his injuries are healing is amazing from one day to the next. His physical therapy is also a wonder to watch. He is not anything close to being normal strength wise, but his determination and courage to do what is required is an inspiration to see. He is physically strong enough to be released.

So the possibility of him coming home tomorrow (Monday) is not out of the question. In my opinion, I would say he would not be coming home tomorrow, but then again I'm not making the diagnosis and evaluations. We just really won't know until it happens, but it will be on a day this week I'm sure.

For the burns and injuries he suffered, he is setting records that the hospital staff have never seen before. Counting the day he was injured, today is the 27th day. That first day we were told that it would be a minimum of two months before being released. October 4th was the date we were shooting for and now it looks like he'll be out a day or two before September 4th.

Once again, we see Danny's will to help himself by taking charge as much as possible to improve his circumstances. He needs a comic book written about him and have it called "SuperDan-ny Boy", Super Human! There is one draw back to his remarkable recovery. Other patients will hear of his success and may be disappointed when they are not as far along in the same amount of time.

Today we will be having a family get together at our home here in Kaysville, and since Danny will be unable to attend, we took some potato salad, while Andy and Debbie brought a cheddar brat and regular bratwurst, We had a family party with just us five in his room. Danny ate more than I've seen up to this date, two thirds of the cheddar brat w/bun and spicy brown mustard, along with about half the potato salad.
It was a good party after which Danny got the chills, so he got covered up warm in bed and probably fell asleep until his next physical therapy at 3:00.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

get me out of here (from Danny)

Andy and Debbie were here tonight and we decided I should get up and walk around the unit just to get my legs some exercise. We got half way around the little track and my nurse Jessie said we should hijack a wheelchair and go outside. It was nice to get some fresh air, plus I am fairly unaware of where I am. I now have a little bearing of my location in the universe. It's nice to see they brought me to the ultra plush hospital. Valet Parking, are you kidding me? That will be well used over the next months/years that I have to come back for therapy and such.

I really want to thank everybody for all the prayers and fasting that I know is what has gotten me through this thing that I'm going through. I know that's why I've had the remarkable success they tell me I am having.

I will try to post as often as I can but everything takes a lot of energy. I love reading all of your comments so keep it up.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Wound Care Lessons

Today Judy and I learned what we are to do, to take care of Danny's injuries. When he is released from the hospital, he will be staying with us until he can take care of himself. Part of that care will be assisting him with changing his bandages daily. Up to this point we've seen only his face and head. Today we observed unwrapping and re-wrapping his wounds. On parts of the re-wrapping we also assisted. Danny is hurt pretty bad on most areas of his body either from the burns or from the donor sites. His ears are especially tender and sensitive.

The wound care takes a lot out of him physically and emotionally. He's tensed up the whole time even while on pain medication. The wound care is at least half an hour with four people working on him. As we were finishing up with the wrapping, the physical rehab gal asked him if he wanted to go through his rehab routine. He told her that he may as well, and for another 45 minutes he peddled, stair stepped, stretched legs muscles and climbed a flight of stairs in the hospital stair well twice, then walked back to his room where dinner was waiting.

He is now on an eat anything he wants level. For dinner they brought him lasagna, mashed potatoes w/gravy and either pureed peas or beans, not really sure. He ate well with not much trouble swallowing, thought he still needs to be careful. Since they took the feeding tube out of his nose he swallows, and talks better and also has a better appetite. In the future have him tell you about taking the feeding tube out. Following dinner, Danny got the chills and requested some warm blankets to put on him in bed. As he was getting warmed up, we said good bye until tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. when we will be back to help with wound care again.

One aspect of Danny is now back. His sense of humor and occasional wise cracks came out a few times. This is the first day I've seen him where he hasn't been totally depressed and dark. I went away feeling very good about how he's doing. He may be starting to see there will be hope for a happy future.

Most of you probably already know he can text with you, so that is still your best way to communicate with him at this time.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Like Trish says, Danny "The Machine" Erickson

I went up early this morning and saw Danny just after 8:00 a.m. He was having breakfast, which was scrambled eggs with ketchup. He wasn't too happy though, because there was no salt, pepper or Tabasco sauce. The eggs were bland he said.

His nurse, Colby, was telling him that the way he was eating, the feeding tube would probably be removed in the next day or two. As nice as that sounded, reality was even better. When Judy saw him this afternoon, the tube had already been removed. Danny is tube free today!

He's still managing pain with medication which he's taking orally in pill form now. There are only a couple of areas that are pain problems. You would think it would be where he was burned, but it's actually where he had skin taken for the grafting. The burned areas are itchy more than painful.

If I remember other details later, I will update this posting.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday August 26th

Today Danny was disconnected from his I.V. and was thankful that it's one less thing he's dependent on. During his physical therapy he was given a timed balance test, which consisted of standing up from a chair and walking forward to a cone placed on the floor, go around the cone and sit back in the chair. It took him 30 seconds on his first try. He thought that was quite slow so he gave it another try and improved the time to 21 seconds. Now he'll need to improve on that time as he progresses.

He had Judy give him his iPhone to check messages and calls for the first time in 3 weeks. He seems to be able to handle it well and has decided to keep it with him, so I'm sure some of you have already received a text message.

He signed a check to take care of one of his accounts and the signature is not very recognizable even after a few practice runs. Each thing he tries to do seems to be like starting over from the very beginning.

Sleeping at night is still a challenge so he has agreed to use a sleeping aid tonight to see if the results will be favorable.

That is the progress report as far as I have been told. If I hear of any other events, updates will follow. For anyone who has read yesterdays posting, it has been updated a couple of times today. You might want to go back and check it out.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday August 25th

Not a whole lot to report on Danny this evening. Sleeping is his main activity it seems, when we are there anyway. He gets scrubbed each day to remove the bad skin, plus he's on a twice daily physical rehab schedule.

We did learn that he's been upgraded to the next level of food. He'll be able to have things that are not pureed now but still very soft, such as mac & cheese. His ability to swallow improves each day.

While we were there, the physical therapist woke him up for a session in the workout room. We followed and watched. Although it was an effort on his part to get out of the bed, he is doing better walking on his own. It only took a couple of minutes to get to the workout room. On the way back, his therapist made him take a lap around the nurses station, but instead of two laps she only had him do the one because of how tired he had become.

When he got in bed, he was exhausted and couldn't help but fall asleep. We waited around thinking we would talk to him later, but as we sat there, we fell asleep too. We woke him up to say goodbye, but I'm not sure he will remember it.


Just an addition here. Today was my birthday and I don't make a big deal out of it. In fact I consider my birthday as a non-event, always have. Tonight right around 11:00 p.m. I was shutting down the computer and checking to make sure I had all my messages. As I checked to see who was on line for Instant Messaging on Facebook, I saw Danny Erickson was available. It was sort of like a dream because I knew he didn't have his laptop with him, so I thought maybe someone else had his ID and password. I clicked his name and wrote: Is that you Danny? It came back saying: I forgot to wish you Happy B-Day.

Andy and Debbie had his laptop at the hospital and he was indeed online. We exchanged a few more comments, then he was gone. It will be one of my all time best birthdays ever.


The comment by Trish following this posting is very interesting and informative. Thank you so much Trish.


Monday, August 24, 2009

More milestones of improvement

Judy went to see Danny after she got off work this evening and reports several positive improvements. Danny was swallowing pills today. The nurse broke them in pieces to aid in the process but he is trying to take water through a straw and swallow the broken pills. He lost one of the pill pieces and it worried him that it may have gone down the wind pipe, but he was able to find it and get it down to his stomach. Tomorrow he's going to try drinking from a cup while taking his medication.

It was mentioned that they may turn off the feeding tube tonight to see if Danny will be hungry for real food in the morning. He's having issues with the food that is offered, ya know how that goes in hospitals. He gets pureed everything right now and pureed pork or salmon or beef isn't his thing.

Today was Danny's fourth day of walking to physical therapy. Each time he uses a walker to get there and back. Today after his second therapy session he walked back to his room without the aid of the walker. He must really want out of that hospital! His nurse said it's unheard of to be that far ahead of schedule.

He still tires quickly and needs sleep, although he has a hard time sleeping when he's supposed to, at night. It's required that he wears molded splints on his arms at night and he gets a sort of claustrophobia about not being able to reach things like water or his suction line during the night. His regular nurse will be having days off after today and Danny is not looking forward to that. He especially likes this nurse because he treats Danny very good. We can only hope things work out with the relief nurse.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

A very encouraging Sunday

We arrived at the hospital and I went in alone to see if Danny had any visitors while Judy waited in the hall for Wynn and his family. I was surprised to see cubical #25 (Danny's space) was vacant and all the pictures were off the wall. A bed was there, but was all made with clean linen. I started to look around for where they stashed our patient. One room was closed up and all the blinds were shut. It was room 21 and the nurse told me that's where he was. I peeked in to see if he had any visitors but nobody was in there and Danny was asleep. By the time I went back out in the hall, Wynn and family had arrived and I let everyone know of the changes.

Judy and I waited for Wynn, Melissa and any of their children to go in and see Danny. Before they were finished, Andy and Debbie arrived, a bit worn from the party the night before, so we told them to go ahead of us. After they left it was our turn. Danny was awake and doing exercises when I walked in. His voice is just a bit stronger too. That was very encouraging. He has one less tube attached to him now and is more mobile because of it. We watched him eat more than we've seen so far. He had several bites of mashed potatoes with gravy, two 8 oz. glasses of milk and a high protein, high calorie shake. He's almost force feeding himself because he desperately wants that feeding tube out of his nose. He was swallowing much better today without a lot of time in between sips. He's able to operate the controls of his bed well, and now has a decent TV, although I doubt he will watch it much. He dislikes TV about like a toothache.

We were with him for about an hour and he finally was wore out. We left him at that point so he could rest. All in all, we were very happy at how he's coming along. We also watched him do some face and neck exercises. With his attitude I would guess he will be ahead of schedule with his healing.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday the 22nd

Things are definitely improving. I walked in there this morning and saw a wheelchair in his room. It was there because he had been using it. His day started with another shower scrub down. They finished that and got him all re-bandaged up. They then had him walk back to his room from the scrub room. That is about 150 feet to walk. They then had him walk back to the physical therapy room which is right across from the shower room. He did a hand bicycle exercise and a bunch of other range of motion exercises, and had him go back to his room. Then he got put in the wheelchair and rolled around the hospital for a mini tour. His nurse Jessie took him outside the building to the front for a little while for a change of scenery.

This all left him completely exhausted. They brought his lunch in to him and he tried to eat it, but after a couple of bites, he passed out asleep. His pain medications are working out much better. He is off the line in pain killers and they are just giving him Percocet and Tylenol. He is doing so well with it that he is using less than the average pill popping degenerate. Yesterday he was complaining about his pain getting a little bad and called the nurse over to adjust it. The nurse told me that it had been over 10 hours since he had taken any pain killers and that Danny had not wanted any all day until just then. That is pretty good. This is the first time I have seen them leave his ears uncovered, and they look alright. They are really scabby, but that is a good sign.

Now that the medication is straightened out and he is not completely confused all the time, he says he may be ready for visitors. We are going to open it back up to anyone who wants to go see him starting Monday. Please just keep in mind that he is always exhausted and can't entertain guests for very long. If you would keep your visits short, I am sure that he would love to see people.

I hope that this news makes people feel better about the whole thing. After seeing where he started out 10 days ago and where he is now, the progress is unreal.



I will be adding our observations to this update on Sunday morning. It's 11:00 p.m. Saturday and we just arrived home after spending the evening with Danny.


OK, I'm awake and ready to tell you about Danny's Saturday. He really doesn't have days of the week, since right now one is the same as any other for him.

We had two visits with Danny on Saturday, the first being from noon until 3:30 p.m. We first tried to help and encourage him to eat, but he's still having difficulty swallowing and even having an appetite. Sometime around 2:00, his speech and swallowing coach came in to do checks and evaluations with him. He's doing everything right as far as getting food and liquids down, but the speaking voice is weak. The coach said it's because his vocal cords are not coming together all the way. If a certain amount of improvement doesn't occur soon, then a check of his throat and vocal cords will be necessary. Following his check up, Danny was tired and we told him that we would be back later in the evening to see him. He was falling asleep and we were just about to walk out when his physical therapist showed up. Judy asked if it would be alright if we could be there for the workout session. Since we're his parents, we were told it was fine.

The physical therapy session was most likely the same as what Andy has described previously. Getting to the therapy room was more of an ordeal that just walking from point to point. A walker is brought around along with a wheelchair, after which all the support tubes and containers needed are hooked to the walker. It takes two people to get him down the hall. The physical therapist is his primary assistant pulling the oxygen bottle and making sure he don't fall while using the walker. The other person follows directly behind with the wheelchair so Danny can have a place to sit down immediately if needed. The pace of Danny's walk is very slow and careful. It took him about ten minutes to go 75 feet. At the two thirds point, he became exhausted and had to be put in the wheel chair for the rest of the trip.

In the therapy room, he did the range of motion exercises and the bicycle pedaling with his arms routine. He was having trouble with pain while sitting in the wheelchair and paused a few times during the hand pedaling to readjust. These exercises were strenuous enough that he was sweating pretty good. After he was done pedaling with his arms, I gave it a try. For me it offered very little resistance and was very easy. For Danny it was very difficult, which showed me how weak he has become. Following the therapy he walked all the way back to his bed without sitting in the wheelchair. It took ten minutes on the return trip. As he was standing there with the staff, I noticed the comparison between him and other able bodied people. Danny has become frail, making me realize how much work he'll need to do to get back to where he was less than three weeks ago before the accident. We left as they were getting him into bed and told him we would be back at around 8:00 p.m.

We left the hospital and attended Andy and Debbie's engagement party, where everyone asked how Danny was doing. We gave our report to everyone that was interested, and enjoyed the goings on there. I kept thinking of Danny and how he couldn't be there, so I took a lot of pictures for him to look at later.

We left the party to return to the hospital by 8:00. When we got there Danny was trying to readjust himself in bed for comfort. He was grateful that we showed up and were able to help him. During this visit he was able to drink 8 oz. of chocolate milk. We met his nurse for the night and talked to her about taking care of his ears. She assured us that she would be gentle. We left for half an hour so she could do her job and then returned to find him in pain with his left ear dripping blood on the pillow and his gown. I can only guess that his scabs had been pulled off, but why, I really don't know. Danny was miserable and hurting. After the nurse left we looked at how the ears had been bandaged. He needed much more cream on them to assure the gauze would not stick when they were removed later. Judy and I made sure this was properly done before we left. We learned how to bandage those ears from one of the nurses Danny likes. We made sure he was comfortable and able to reach his water and were about to leave, when an assistant came along and moved the table with the water. We had to stop her and explain that Danny wanted it there. Each person coming in to assist him does it different and some are able to know what would be helpful for Danny. I'm guessing that sometime during the night the table got moved, but if we're lucky maybe not.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21st

All reports from those who visited Danny today were very favorable. His partner in business, Chad, was able to see him for the first time since the accident. He said Danny looked like himself but was so medicated that staying awake was a problem. Andy had pretty much the same report.

Judy and I saw Danny right after the shift change at 8:00 p.m. and he wasn't hurting or having any unusual problems. We would talk to him and he would wake up slightly and talk to us, even though we suspect most of what he was saying was not based in reality. He told us that he had drank two cups of milk, but his milk was sitting on the tray mostly full and they only bring one cup full during the day. (Update: Below in the comments, Andy set me straight with this story. He says Danny did have more than one glass of milk. Oooops) He's still being fed through the tube. I did notice his monitor and it showed the body temp to be 38.7 which is a bit high. 37.0 is normal body temp. He was breathing normal and his oxygen level was between 95 and 100.

Danny's appearance is changing for the better every time I see him. Today his face was almost clear of any signs of healing, and the skin is very smooth, looking like the skin of a young child. His lips and the area around his mouth are still looking a bit rough, but Judy told me that the day before they looked much better.
He's breathing mostly through his mouth and we suspect that is the reason for the chapped lips. We haven't seen any other areas below his neck, so as far as the grafted and donor areas we can only rely on what we are told, and all those reports are good. I was comparing what his face and head looks like now and what he looked like in a picture that's taped to the wall. I was paying particular attention to his nose and hairline, and as far as I can tell nothing is different. His ears are still healing and covered with cream and gauze, so they were not visible.

Danny should be a bit happier now since we took his personal razor from home and left it with him. The hospital provides the cheap disposables for the patients and he had been complaining about that for a week.

Not too much in the way of dramatic improvements at this time. We were told that he will be up and walking on Saturday and every day from now on. It may be only a trip around the nurses station (50 to 100 feet). I'm sure any change from laying in the bed will be very welcome for Danny.


Thursday, August 20

Today was a rather good day for Danny. The way that my schedule has worked out, I have always been there at some of the worst times. I usually get there around wound care time and which means that he is getting drugged up and ready for his daily beating. Then he is in bad pain and hallucinating from painkillers and in a bad way.
That was the case yesterday. I got there just before they changed his bandages. He told me that he was really worried about it because of how bad it had hurt the day before. I went to run some erands while they changed the bandages. When i came back he was complaining about how bad it hurt. On most days he rates his pain at about a 4 or 5 out of 10. Now he said it was between a 9 and 10, 10 being absolutly unbearable. He was hitting the button to call the nurse and passing out from the pain. He was getting so desperate that he almost sat up and crawled out of bed. This went on for a long time and it seemed like it wasn't getting any better. Leaving out most of the details, it was pretty awful to see him in such a bad way.

From yesterday to today was a night and day difference. I came in first thing in the morning after i got off of work to find him sleeping soundly. I sat there for an hour and all he did was move his arms around a couple of times. He said a couple of crazy things to me right as I was getting up to leave, but I think it was the painkillers talking. Shift change came around so I decided to go home and get some sleep. I came back about 4 hours later and he was feeling much better about his situation. Wound care had gone much better today and they shaved him for the first time in a couple of days. Something had been done to ease his pain back to something a little more bearable and he was not goofy from the drugs. He was talking about how desperate he had been over the previous two days. It had been his worst two days by far.

Hopefully he has hit a turning point. There is a lot of good news with him though. The grafts on his arms are healing very well. His face is looking good too. As most people have not seen him for a week or so, you will not believe the difference. He looks like himself again. His fever is down and he is ahead of schedule as far as healing progress goes. The morning of his last grafting surgery, he was up and walking. He walked all the way around the nursing station. One of the long time nurses said "For someone burned as bad as he was to be up and walking that much is unheard of". He is doing stuff at the two weeks mark that normally takes people until the four week mark. The physical therapist is calling him superman because of how fast he is improving. She also said that she has not seen someone come in in such bad shape and progress so quickly.So even though he is having bad days, he is still way ahead of the curve for recovery.

He is still to tired to eat more than a few bites of food at a time and his feeding tube is still a bane to his existence, but he is still hopeful for a speedy recovery. His own positive attitude is a hugely important factor in his recovery. I expect in the next couple of days to see a big improvement as his surgeries and skin donor sites heal a little more.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another good day today

I seem to miss the good days when I'm unable to go see Danny. Judy reports that he was doing much better today than yesterday. He was eating better, or at least trying to. He was asking about people that have come by or would like to see him. He was wondering why I wasn't there today, which all these things are good signs that his mind is clearer.

Danny is starting to itch. We all know how it feels when we're on the mend and the owie starts to itch. That's what Danny is starting to go through. I've been told he can reach the itch, but with his gloves on, scratching is not very effective.

That's about it from his parents. We sure hope the improvements just keep rolling in.

Thank you for all the comments in response to these postings. When Danny is finally able to read all of them, it will lift his spirits I'm sure. These comments by you, his friends, are every bit as good as a card or balloons and flowers. As far as Danny needing anything to occupy his time,
eventually he will have his laptop and telephone. Hopefully he will also contribute to this blog.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A day of negative progress

Wednesday evening.

Dannys legs needed to be unwrapped and re wrapped today. He developed an elevated white blood cell count and fever. The doctor wanted to make sure his legs were alright and thus unwrapped and checked them. They are fine and doing well.

The other possible cause was his artery line which is used for vital information such as heart rate, oxygen level, etc. It's a likely source of infection, and they decided to change it's location from his right chest area to his left upper arm.

All that activity of changing and reapplying bandages and artery lines caused some of the worst pain Danny has experienced during his recovery. He told us that at one point the pain was so intense he passed out.

It's hard to know when he's able to tell reality from his imagination and we were told by doctor Morris this could happen. I want to believe the things he is telling us are factual, but he told Catherine this evening that we didn't stop by today, when actually we were there for a couple of hours and changed the dressing on his ears. He prefers we do it since we take the time to be very gentle and avoid hurting him while removing the old bandages. Although his ears look gruesome with bleeding and scabbing, that is actually a good sign of healing. Over all, Danny's face looks very good. Any swelling is gone and he looks totally normal.

The doctor decided that the staff should administer Danny's pain medications for a few days. Danny wasn't giving himself enough to get proper rest. Although he was medicated this afternoon, he was awake long enough for us to change the dressing on his ears, but by the time we were done, he just wanted some warm blankets on him so he could sleep. He was hoping to sleep until midnight.

Tomorrow will be the third day since his leg grafts. I'm not sure when the weeping liquid will stop coming from the areas of the surgery. It makes the linen wet and laying in wetness all the time is truly maddening. I'm sure it's a mental strain along with the physical discomfort. We can only hope the next day or two will bring improvements over these trials.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 15

Tuesday 9:40 p.m.

Judy saw Danny today and he's doing real well. He was awake most of the day and relatively alert. He was talking about business concerns and insurance matters.

The most recent surgery has left him in an uncomfortable state, mostly from fluids that accompany the healing. Last evening the staff gave Danny control of his pain medication to administer it as needed. He was very happy to have some control over any aspect of his own well being.

He's been eating better today. Judy says he ate twice as much today than he did yesterday. He still has issues with nausea, so he was given a medication which eliminates it for a short time as he eats. We suspect it's the feeding tube in his throat that is part or all of the problem. Once he was medicated, he ate much better and enjoyed it more.

Judy thinks that visitors will soon be able to come by.

Not too much more to report, but we're pleased with today's progress.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Today should be Danny's last surgery

It's 8:40 a.m. as I write this on Monday morning.

Judy and I are leaving early to talk to Danny before his surgery at 10:00. He will be getting tissue replacement on areas of his legs and probably his left hand. We will be talking to the doctor after the surgery and will let you all know how things went.

Once again, your concern and prayers are very much appreciated.


3:15 p.m. Monday afternoon

We went to see Danny prior to his surgery this morning and as usual, he was sleeping. Judy would softly talk to him and he would nod his head yes or no, but he was not really able to wake up for more than 10 or 15 seconds.

One of the attendants said Danny had been walking earlier in the morning. The staff helped him walk down the hall and back to his bed, while staying within the burn unit. This was his first real walking in almost two weeks. His face and head looked much better today than yesterday. During the night, I woke up and was thinking about Danny's ears and how they looked yesterday. I started worrying that some reconstruction may be needed, but when I saw them today there were a few small spots of dark skin and the rest looked fine. It was a relief to see them looking so good after I had talked myself into thinking the worst. His lips and chin still have a dark look to them and I expect that it will change very soon and will be fine.

Now for news on today's surgery. He was scheduled for 10:00 depending on when the doctor finished with the patient prior to Danny. We left the burn unit just before 10:00 and waited for almost 3 1/2 hours before the doctor came to the waiting room. At 1:10 p.m. he came to chat with us and told us Danny is doing well and should be fine. The areas of tissue replacement involved both legs, but primarily the left upper thigh. We were told that any burns on Danny's butt looked good enough to heal on their own. This was very good news, since we had been told early on, that area was third degree and would need tissue replacement. One of the best parts about today's surgery would be that it was not necessary to use tissue from a skin bank. All the replacement tissue was Danny's own and will not be the problem that cadaver skin would be. The doctor also informed us that Danny's arms are doing well and are healing nicely. No mention was made of his left hand, and we forgot to ask.

It was all good news today and even though Danny should not move his legs for the next three days, I believe the worst is over. The task of healing and regaining strength is what's ahead for the next few weeks/months. Danny's primary problem now will be overcoming any nausea and fatigue he'll be plagued with.

After work today, Andy and Debbie will be with him. Then if Danny is awake, Catherine will go see him later this evening. He is well taken care of at this time and I hope that soon he will be well enough to have all his wonderful friends stop by.

Best wishes,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday afternoon August 16th

Things are pretty much the same as yesterday as far as eating, drinking and sleeping. He's only able to stay awake for ten or fifteen minutes. Danny's attitude seems about normal for his situation. He's fighting and doing his best, but the progress is slow for him I'm sure. He's more accustomed to getting things done quickly when he puts his efforts toward something. I know he would like a quicker recovery but this is beyond anything we've ever been through. Patience is the foremost lesson being learned here.

He has made progress in several different areas. He now has full range of motion with his arms and is able to assist him self with a few tasks. When we arrived today, the staff had him out of bed and standing for a few moments. The last thing new is the gloves he is now wearing, which is a change from yesterday.

Not much other than that to report. Andy and Debbie showed up at about 6:00, so we left our patient in their care.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Latest with Danny Boy

On Friday the 14th, Danny's mother and I went to visit him and help him with his dinner. When we got there, his previous meal was still on the tray uneaten, and he was asleep. He was so loaded with painkillers that we didn't get to feed him or talk to him at all. He was that way because of a shower earlier in the day which included a body scrub to get all the dead skin off. For those that have not heard about or know of this process, it's extremely painful. It's much like a dark ages torture but with painkillers.

His male nurse talked to us a little and told us his arms are healing pretty good, but in one small area the graft is a bit thin. That should heal fine, it's a little slow is all. We sat with Danny for almost 2 hours and started to fall asleep ourselves, so we decided to return home and let him continue to sleep. (Like we had any choice in the matter.)

Today, Saturday the 15th, Judy went to see him because we were under the impression that these showers/scrubs would take place every other day. If he was awake, I would follow later on and join them to help out. She was able to assist some and he ate a few things, but he told her of how tired he was of the sweet stuff they offered. (Fruit, pudding, etc.) There was some cream of chicken soup available and he enjoyed that quite a bit. He also had pureed meat he tried to eat but was so tired that he asked Judy to wake him up in twenty minutes and he would try again. He finally gave up on it. A big deal for Danny and his state of mind happened today when they took the splints off his arms and he was able to hold the suction tube. He was so pleased that he could operate it and place it in his mouth where he wanted and needed it. These events happened in a short time period, with Danny sleeping off and on all the while.

Judy says they will be doing another body scrub tomorrow (Sunday) and will continue each day until all the bad skin is removed. Those scrubs make him so tired that he can't do much afterward. Also on Monday they will be doing more skin graft surgery on the areas that need it. His body is rejecting the burnt tissue and it's the reason for his fever. He doesn't have enough of his own skin to use, so they will be applying tissue from a skin bank. That tissue comes from cadavers and since it won't be his own, his body will reject it. The hospital staff is fully aware of this and says it's a method used for a temporary solution until Danny's body has enough skin to harvest. It also prepares the area of injury to accept his own tissue later on. * * * An added note: Sunday the 16th, 1:30 pm. Judy was talking to a friend of ours who is a medical professional and deals with small skin grafts frequently. He says the donor tissue from the tissue bank always adheres and is a success in his procedures. It could be the difference in the size of the wound that determines the outcome.

One goal he's working for, is to get the feeding tube out of his nose. To do that he must eat and get nourishment the old fashioned way, but right now it's making him nauseous to swallow solid food. So as Danny puts it, it's a vicious cycle he's having trouble breaking. It's just one more obstacle he will need to overcome in this uphill hike.
Liquids are no problem any more and he has requested that we bring bottles of cold filtered water whenever we see him.

Danny is still very weak and tired. He knows you all care for him and would like to see him. When he gives us the word, everyone will be notified.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Half Empty or Half Full?

I spent a few hours with Danny at the hospital this morning. It was a fairly uneventful visit (which is a good thing). His temperature had dropped, he was breathing well and trying to figure out how to eat and drink again. He was still a little loopy from all his medicine. The nurses and I exchanged some funny glances and stifled laughter on a few occasions!

He did say something that I was amazed by and it is worth passing on. At one point the nurse asked if he was okay or if there was anything else she could do for him. He said,"Nope, I'm perfect." She said, "Do you mean your temperature is perfect--not too hot or too cold?" He replied, "No, I'm the most perfect I've felt in days. I'm not dizzy, I can drink water when I want, I'm not in pain and I'm the perfect temperature. I'm perfect!" I was so impressed by his ability to look for the good in his current situation instead of dwelling on all that is hard and miserable. I think I need to try harder to do the same.


More details from my point of view

The updates prior to this one are actually more recent than what I'm about to write, but it's always good to know what went on during all times, and this will be a record for Danny to understand the healing he went through. I will start by going back two days beginning with Tuesday night.

My first all nighter (Tuesday night / Wednesday morning) was the first night after removal of his breathing tube and the most difficult as far as seeing the discomfort and suffering of our patient. He was coughing up all the stuff that had accumulated for a week. It was up to us to help him out by providing suction for clearing his mouth. I knew this was helping to clear his lungs and throat, but what I was getting out of him was pasty and not very fluid. He was dry inside and pleaded for water. We were told he wouldn't be able to have any for a couple of hours. That was so hard for me to hear. The two hours that we were told was for Danny's benefit. Off to the side, the attendant told me he wouldn't get any water until the next day. It actually turned into a day and a half before he was able to have any liquids to drink. Andy touched on this a bit, but I was feeling so guilty that I could get a drink of water and Danny wasn't able to. It became hard to fill a cup and drink what I needed. Knowing he couldn't drink, brought to my mind the story of the Crucifixion of Jesus and how thirsty he was. That was truly a low point I went through in Danny's progress.

A comment on the delirious hallucinations. I relieved Judy early Wednesday morning and that's when I first learned about Danny's nightmares. She told me he was thinking he was on fire. That hurt knowing he was going through that again. I've witnessed hallucinating previously as members of my family were close to dieing, but they were quite old and we knew the end was coming. Danny was going to survive and be fine, but the delirium planted doubts for me that I needed to put aside and forget about. As time went on, he would raise his head and I could tell he was seeing things only imagined. I would ask "what do you see Danny?" He would tell me then say "I'm hallucinating right?", and I would tell him what was real and what was not. His comprehension of understanding the difference was impressive. At one point he raised his head and told me he heard bagpipes. I asked if he recognized what they were playing. He paused for a moment and said "Amazing grace". I had to laugh at that one. Of course they were, every bagpiper plays that song but the troubling part was, it's usually at a funeral.

At some point, a respiratory mask was put on Danny's face and humidified air was pumped to him. That relieved my concern about him having such a dry mouth and throat, but it didn't go far enough. I was still wanting to give him some water just to swish around in his mouth.

Andy showed up around 6:00 am Wednesday morning and helped out with what needed to be done. At 7:00 we left and got about an hours worth of sleep while the staff had shift change. After 8:00 we came back and continued attending to the suction, feeling helpless the whole time. Judy arrived to let us both leave and get some sleep. I might mention that Debbie seemed to always be there. Every time I've been there, I've seen her at either the beginning of my shift, or the end, or both. She has helped as much as anybody during all this.

My next night (Wednesday night / Thursday morning) was much more peaceful. I arrived at 8:10 pm, only to find Debbie there too. Debbie stayed for a while then decided she needed to go home and rest. I agreed. This night, they had the positive pressure respirator on Danny, and he was sleeping well. He had fallen asleep close to 6:00 pm. As I sat there and watched him, he didn't move all night and seemed very calm. At 3:00 am I had to go out in my truck for some sleep. When I returned a little after 6:00 am, Andy was at Danny's side and they were talking a little bit. Danny was finally doing well and I could feel my self start to relax. He still hadn't had any water in his mouth, but there was nothing we could do about that. I was thankful for the humidified air being given to him through his respirator. When they had us leave for shift change at 7:00, that's the last time I saw him.

Judy spent all day Thursday with Danny and saw some of the great moments of his recovery. That would be: seeing him get his first water and the subsequent "chocolate milk" along with ice cream. She said they had him take a mouth full of water and rinse. That was what he needed so bad to get rid of all that dry stuff his mouth had produced. We've all heard of "cotton mouth". I didn't know until now a description could be so close to reality. Judy said after eliminating all that misery, Danny was ready to get to the business of swallowing water, and that he did. He was able to have a cracker dipped in water, which he then navigated down the proper channel with no problem. All these minor events are huge steps forward to recovery.

Judy and I will be back to see him later this afternoon (Friday) and will feed him his dinner. Since his hands are still bandaged, for a time he will need help weilding spoons full of food.

I know there will probably be discouragement as we go along, but our patient is a strong one, and will overcome the low spots.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate Milk Anyone?

I really don't know if anyone cares about these details, but I'll share anyway. I just returned from the hospital and Danny passed his swallow tests today! This is a HUGE deal because he has been so thirsty and it has been torture for all of us to deny him liquid. He requested his favorite morning beverage--chocolate milk! I'll never forget the look on his face as he took his first sip--pure joy!

He was doing so much better today. He was calm and able to sleep. His breathing had become much more regular and less labored. I think we are all realizing that this will continue to be a roller coaster and we just have to ride it out.

Just think Danny, in a few days we'll be able to bring you donuts to go with that chocolate milk!


Week 2: Things are beginning to improve.

I will just kind of recap the last couple of days and tell everyone where we are now. My dad and Catherine have already said some of this stuff, but I am just doing a general recap.

Everyone was very happy to see the breathing tube come out and have him breathing on his own. He was finally able to talk and tell us what he was feeling and what he needed. He was lucid and in the moment. He even seemed to be in high spirits for someone in his condition. He was asking questions about his injuries and about his friends and family. He wanted to see the pictures we had on the wall. He even told me some jokes and made me laugh about some stuff. Everything looked really good.
Unfortunately, it only took a couple hours before things started going really bad. He was breathing on his own, but just barely. He was using every muscle in his body to draw a breath. It looked like he was a man under water trying to breath. They had to reposition some of the tubes going into him to different insertion points to avoid infection. This moving of the tubes, changing his bandages, moving him around, and all of the other factors caused him to go into respiratory arrest. I was not there when this happened, and thank you mom and dad for making sure that I didn't find out about it for a couple of days. I may have had a stroke at the time. Luckily, it is not too big of a deal to stop breathing when you have 6 doctors and nurses standing around you. They got him going again quickly.
He was still was still breathing like he had just sprinted a marathon, and he was beginning to develop a bronchial infection and a mild case of pneumonia. His throat was bone dry and the muscles were really weak from having the tube in for a week. Now he was coughing up all the crap in his lungs and throat without being able to swallow or spit it out. Every time he coughed the stuff had to be sucked out of his mouth. His nurses so far have been top notch, ( colby and erica especially have prevented me from multiple anxiety attacks) but they have a lot to do and can't stand there with him every minute of the day waiting for him to cough. When I told him I had to go to work, he panicked about who would be there to help him breath. Even though his nurses know what they are doing and can handle it, I can't blame him. It takes about two seconds of being unable to breath before I would freak out, and he is in that situation all day. Luckily, between Me, Debbie (I am glad that I asked her to marry me), my mom and my dad, we were able to have someone there with him around the clock. Thanks dad for being there 2 nights in a row. It was mostly just to give him peace of mind.( and to give us peace of mind.)
He was also having problems dealing with the drugs. Danny has always been one to avoid medications and drugs unless he really needed it. Now he is being pumped full of the stuff. He was doing good on the first pain killer they had been giving him, but he had begun to develop a bit of a tolerance to it. When they switched him to another kind of pain killer, it started messing with him. He probably had not had real sleep in 7 days. That, combined with the new medicine, sent him in to a delirium. He was seeing things and was totally confused about where he was and what was going on. He was hallucinating and hearing things. It was really hard to watch. It kind of scared me. Hopefully he won't remember a lot of the time he was all loopy.
His other major complaint was the dryness of his throat and mouth. He said it was almost unbearable. A week with a tube in his mouth had caused him to get what he describes as a thick paste lining his whole mouth. He felt like it was choking him. Unfortunately, he cannot have any water. His throat is weakened to the point that even a small amount of water in his mouth could go straight into his lungs causing a major infection. It sucks when a guy is pleading with you for a couple drops of water and you have to say no. My dad and I were in the waiting room drinking a glass of water and feeling guilty about it.
That went on for two days.
As of today, things are much improved. I spent several hours with him this morning after I got off of work. Last night they gave him a mask similar to a sleep apnea mask so that he could breath a little more easily. His pain medication has been straightened out so that he no longer is delirious, and he actually got some real sleep for most of the night. While his breath is still quite labored, it is not even close to how bad it was. He is not coughing nearly as frequently, his face is starting to look better, and the swelling is way down.
After the worst 10 days of my life, I can say that I am feeling a little bit better about his outlook. When I first arrived in his room this morning, he was occasionally lifting his arms up and moving them around. He was also lifting his head up and down and moving he legs as much as he could. It looked like he was doing it because he was in pain. I asked him what he was doing and he said that if he kept trying to move, he would get out of there sooner. Yep. I think that Danny is still Danny. They say he will be out of there by the first part of October. Don't be surprised if it is sometime in September.
When I left he was sleeping. He needs all of the sleep he can get. For this reason we are still asking everyone to stay home and save your visits for later. When he is a little stronger, he will appreciate some guests a little more. Perhaps he will be ready for visitors on Monday. We will let you know. Keep sending him your positive energy, though.


Sometimes It Feels Like One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Just a quick update on the events of the last two days. I was with Danny on Tuesday when the nurse came in and told me they wanted to remove the tubes and get him off the ventilator. They asked me to leave for 15 minutes and when I returned he was awake and very alert and breathing on his own! It was very labored breathing (sounded a little like Darth Vadar). He tried to talk and didn't have much of a voice, but I could understand about half of what he said. He was surprisingly coherent and had a lot of questions. He wanted to know what day and time it was, what his injuries were, if he'd had surgery and where. He asked me what his face looked like and about each of my kids. He even referred to a few things I had told him when he was sedated and I knew he had probably heard more than I thought. It was so wonderful to have him back for a little bit and know that he is still the same person. I was elated when I left the hospital. It seemed like we had reached a major milestone and things would just get better and better.

I should have realized that a day that great would be followed by a really difficult one. That is just how these things go. Only a few hours after I left he began hallucinating (as Jan referred to in his last post) and he was so, so thirsty. He is sufficiently hydrated, so that isn't the concern, but they won't let him have a drink because he isn't swallowing correctly. Apparently he didn't sleep much Tuesday night and it was a rough night for everyone.

When I arrived yesterday around 5pm he was very agitated. He had developed a fever, so they knew he was getting some sort of infection. They were unsure of the source of the infection and thought it might be in his central line, so they removed it and put a new one in. He suffered some complications during that process, but they were able to get it in. When I was there they had him breathing through a humidifier mask to keep his throat moist and loosen up the junk in his lungs. They are fairly certain he is developing pneumonia and they need to keep things loose so he can cough it all up. The mask drives him crazy and he kept begging me to take it off of him. At one point he said "Just take it off me for five minutes, the nurse won't get mad, I promise!" I laughed and told him she would kick me out if I didn't follow her orders. They still weren't allowing him to drink and it is driving him crazy. He was having mild hallucinations and seemed to be in a lot of pain. It was so hard to watch. Finally the respiratory therapist arrived and changed him to a different kind of mask that helps him breathe a little and he was able to relax and go to sleep.

I left feeling very discouraged, but in talking to the nurses I realized this is all part of the process. I think it is easy to forget how critical his injuries are and how hard his body is working to try to heal itself. He is just so exhausted. But, today is a new day and hopefully one with some good news! I haven't heard reports from the hospital yet to see how his night was, but hopefully he got some sleep. I'm sure Jan will post an update sometime today. Thanks for your continued prayers and support.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two steps forward and one step back

Right now, Danny is doing good physically but his mental is getting messed with by the medications. I believe it's the pain meds that are causing hallucinating at this time. I just got back from an all nighter with him and he's going through some difficult things in his mind.

He is very limited on water intake because he is not swallowing like he should and the water ends up in the wrong place. It causes problems with choking and possible lung infection. He gets a few drops of water on a very small sponge but still has difficulty with it.

After the wound maintenance was done, I was told his grafts are coming along well and everything is fine with him physically. There is still one other surgery coming up in a week or so, and that should be the last.

The hospital staff let us know that they won't be allowing any visitors to see Danny for a few days, except for the family. We appreciate all the prayers and concern, and hope everything is well for everyone who is following this.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good News

The trouble with the good news is that I don't have time to write about it in detail. I need to be at the hospital tonight to help our Danny Boy through the night.

I will say that they were able to take the breathing tube out today.

He is extremely tired and weak at this time and does not believe he would be able to have visitors for a few days. As soon as he is up to it, we will let you know when you can see him. That information will be posted here.

He thanks all his friends and wishes you well.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Slight disappointment for Mom and Dad

Today, Judy and I were hopeful that we would walk in to see some improvement in Danny's condition. We were sort of expecting his respiration at a lower number so his breathing tube would be closer to removal. We were hoping for the number to be under 16. I'm not sure what those numbers represent, but 12 is the goal to get the tube taken out. He's still at 16 and they don't want to reduce it quite yet.

Danny's blood sugar levels are not as they should be either. Apparently they were elevated during the night and then dropped under what is needed. Anyway, it was a little setback, for us anyway. When hopes are up and the desired result is not realized, well you know how it goes.

This paragraph is a later addition, posted at 3:00 am Tuesday morning:
I forgot to mention that the bandages were taken off Danny's arms today. The skin grafts were successful, so that is a big positive for the day. This got overshadowed in our mind by the lack of good news with the breathing tube. Sorry to have let it slip by.

We've started coordinating a visiting schedule among Catherine, Andy, Debbie and our selves. It will change on a daily basis as our personal obligations permit. I learned that today Catherine was reading a book to Danny, and read a chapter then asked if she should stop. Danny shook his head no. So Catherine continued reading. It could be that he just likes to hear someones voice rather than silence, or he was actually listening to what was being read. I have a feeling that it could have been that it was Catherine doing the reading and hearing her voice made him feel better. I read a short article out of today's Ogden newspaper. I didn't get much of a reaction after I finished, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.

We watched as they repositioned him in the bed. He seemed to have the leg fidgets and was twitching and moving both legs. After they had moved him he seemed to feel better. As we stood by the bed, Judy said she was too warm in her plastic gown, at that point Danny nodded yes, meaning he was warm too and so our attendant brought a fan around and turned it on to blow across the bed. He also wanted the sheet taken off him so it would be cooler. We took a break and came back later only to find him with his eyes open. That was the first time we've seen that. He's had his eyes open for other people, but it was our first time. I think he's not quite able to focus or the sight is blurry because of salve that may have gotten into his eyes from the eyelids. It's a helpless feeling not to be able to do something for him.

It was the first time we had seen the posters up on the wall which were made during the party yesterday. Looking at the wall and cupboard doors with all the decorations is a cheery addition. We told the staff that the picture on the calendar was Danny on the beach in Costa Rica. They thought that was quite special. Thank you Ian.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday the 9th of August

Greetings everyone, today was a very positive day at the burn center for Danny and all those who showed up to see him. Probably not as much for Danny because I'm sure he's still confused and unclear of his future.

It was a poster party which was organized by Debbie that occupied some of the visitors and their children during the afternoon. The signs and posters will be attached to the walls and ceiling when we figure out how to get them up there. As each pair took their turn to go in and see Danny, the rest of us visited and talked of common interests, which usually included stories about our favorite patient. Once again we are extremely grateful for everyone taking time to show up at the hospital because of their concern for Danny.

At 5:00 pm, those who had been observing a period of fasting, gathered together to end the fast with prayer. Although a group of about 10 people gathered at the hospital for this event, many hundreds more in other areas of the state and surrounding regions also participated with fasting and prayer. It was a comforting and special moment. The owners of the home which Danny was painting, were with us as we ended our fasting. They are extremely gracious and special people.

Danny's face is starting to turn brown from scab formation. Although it is not a pleasant image, it's a very good sign that he is well on his way to healing. His nose and ears are having that same result. We were very worried a few days ago that nose and ear reconstruction would be a necessary, but now the natural healing of those features seems to be what we can look forward to.

He is still responding to questions and conversation from us visitors. I asked him if all these visitors were too tiring for him and he shook his head no. Then I asked if time was dragging and slow for him. He shook his head yes. Although the staff is taking very good physical care of him, it's hard to know if they are able to converse with him other than the business of his maintenance. He has started to somewhat breath on his own. Tomorrow they will reduce the ventilator and see how he does by himself. If all goes well, they could remove his breathing tube by Tuesday, if not sooner.

Tomorrow (Monday) the bandages come off his arms and they will see how the skin grafting worked. I would like to be there when that happens but no one knows the schedule except the doctor. It will be exactly three days after the completion of surgery at 7:45 pm on Monday.

Danny still has burnt skin which needs replacement, but that won't happen for another ten days or so.

I keep meeting new people coming up to see Danny, and as I witness their concern and interest in his well being, I am impressed by him and how many he has apparently touched with his happy attitude and caring for others. As I finish up here, I can feel everyone's attitude is coming out of the dark and into a brighter place. I pray there will be no setbacks, but as of this time I'm happy with how our friend and son is coming along.

Some of you may be wondering about Danny's house and yard. He has great neighbors that watch out for him and are doing his yard work. (Two of them were there today to see him.) When we left the hospital we went over to Danny's place and when we got there, the sprinklers were on and his grass was looking good. The gal in charge of the lawn watering came over and talked to us. Wonder of wonders, she works on the 5th floor of the U Med Center. She told us she went down and saw him just recently. We have told Danny's neighbors what vehicles to expect to see at his house while he's not there. Any unauthorized ones will be observed and recorded and suspicious activity will be questioned.


A Day of Fasting

The last few days I have thought a lot about a favorite story of mine. A missionary serving in Tonga was riding in a small boat in the Pacific Ocean when a raging storm blew in. The winds became boisterous and the waves rough and large. Despite the prayers and pleadings of this missionary, he was thrown overboard into the raging ocean. He describes the panic he felt as he realized he was alone, fighting for his life in this angry sea. He kept thinking "This can't be! This isn't true! I'm a missionary; this isn't supposed to happen!" And then he realized he would drown if he didn't start to swim. As he fought to reach land he cried out to the Lord, "Master, help me! Oh please help me!" As he swam he felt great peace, comfort and strength beyond his own. He eventually reached land was rescued by some local islanders. He concludes his account by saying "I have thought a lot about that experience. God was with us. He saved us. He could have brought us through the storm unscathed and landed us safely in our home port. But for some reason, He chose otherwise. I have heard it said that sometimes the Lord calms the storm, and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child." (John H. Groberg, The Other Side of Heaven, pg. 5)

Danny is in the middle of a raging storm right now. The physical and emotional pain he is experiencing threatens to drown him. While I believe that God does have the power to miraculously heal him and calm this "storm", a more likely scenario is that He will use this power to calm Danny--to bring him the peace, comfort and strength he needs to endure this trial. My prayers today (and everyday for that matter) include pleas for the success of his surgery, reduced scarring and so on, but mostly that he will be filled with peace and comfort. That even in the midst of all his suffering, he can feel Heavenly Father's love for him and our love for him. I know that this is possible because I have felt it in my own life as I have faced my own storms.

I know there is power in uniting our faith in Danny's behalf. As a community of his family and friends, we come from diverse religious backgrounds, but I know that the Lord accepts the offering that each of us has to give. This burden is too great for Danny to carry alone, but if we can each take a small piece and carry it for him, collectively we can do this.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

An Observation of Danny's Fragile Condition

Saturday 11:00 pm

Danny's mother and I went to see him this afternoon at about 5:00 pm. We entered the burn unit and the first thing I noticed was his arms had been moved. It was our understanding that the arms were not to be moved. We were both very concerned and Judy asked the attendant about it and was told everything was fine. Judy wasn't buying it and the attendant had her talk to Doctor Morris. We learned that they must change the bedding underneath Danny because of his burns on his leg and butt. The doctor said the moving of the arms was to be done with extreme care. This is some what worrisome, but it's under the direction of the doctor.

As the attendant was working with Danny, he would ask him questions and Danny would respond with a nod for yes or no. This was great for us to see, so when we talked to him we asked a few yes/no questions and he did respond.

We were telling Danny how good he was doing and how good he looked with comments about specific things of his recovery. I think this was a mistake. At one point he began crying and getting upset. All these emotions he was going through were showing up on his monitors too. His heart rate increased, the respiratory line would spike and his temp increased. Of course I felt terrible and also let go of my own tears. It finally hit us that we were making him think about himself and his troubles. When we left, we discussed this and decided we better talk about anything but him. So we are thinking that would be a good idea as long as he is heavily sedated and in a partial dream state. Maybe when he is awake, things will be different.

We needed to leave for the shift change at 7:00 and went for a walk outside to pass the time. At 8:15 we went back in to see how he was. I first looked at his monitors and saw he was doing very well and was calm. His temp was 95 as we started talking to him. We kept the subject about what we had been doing earlier in the day, and about friends or family, or what time it was and what day it was, anything but talking about him. We were not sure if he heard us and I said that to Judy. As I told her that, Danny nodded his head yes. He had been listening to us the whole time. I did see that his temp went up to 98 not too long after we began talking, but everything else remained smooth and even.

We think that while he is heavily sedated and only partially awake we must try and make him think of things other than what he is going through. Also we believe that limiting ourselves to shorter visits may be necessary while he is so fragile. Judy reminded me of Dan Udy's hospital stay and how he was recovering, and the difficulties he had with large groups as he was first coming around.

When Danny is fully awake, then we can all see him and understand what he would like. Until then it may be better to spare him too much stress.

I tell you what, one of us, either Catherine or Andy or Mom and Dad should maybe ask him and find out what he would prefer.


Half of the surgeries in the bag

Last night Danny had the first of what we hope will only be two skin graft surgeries. The skin for the graft was harvested from the areas on his thighs that was not burned and from his stomach. They managed to finish his arms from his wrists up to about 6 inches past his elbows. The process involves harvesting the skin and running it through a machine that flattens it and cross-cuts a lot of little cuts in it. This process increases the surface area of the skin and it covers a lot more area than the area it was taken from. Skin grafts are extremely delicate. For the next three days he will be heavily sedated so that he will not move around and screw up the work that was done. It is so delicate that they will not even risk moving him enough to change his sheets or bandages for three days, even though they will be really bloody and gross. But all in all, the surgery was a big success and things are looking really good for Danny right now. It is expected that he can get that awful breathing tube out of his throat on Tuesday.

The remaining surgery will be to graft his the back of his legs from just above his knees up to part of his butt. Also his left hand was burnt a little worse that first thought and it will require some grafting. All of this should be completed in one more try and then it is recovery time. This is scheduled in 10 to 14 days from now.

A lot of really good news came out yesterday. Best news all day was about his eyes. In the hours before the surgery his sedation medication was lowered to the point that he was a little bit responsive. Several times I asked him to open his eyes and he did. They were not able to test his eyes when he first arrived at the hospital due to them being swollen tightly shut. During the surgery they did the tests to verify that there is nothing to worry about concerning his eyes and he should have no change to his vision.
Second good thing is his face. His face will probably heal on its own with no grafting and minimal scarring. Us freckle faces don't catch any breaks. After a lifetime of getting made fun of and beaten for being freckle faces, turns out that we scar worse due to those same freckles. It is hard to match the sleek leopard pattern of freckles that we develop over time. The main concern was how badly his nose was burned. It looked like one of the deepest burns on his body. However, earlier in the day a nurse was washing his face and blood was coming out of a few spots on the tip of his nose. This is a great thing. It means that there is living tissue in there that is getting circulation.
Another good piece of news is something that may not matter as much to us as it will matter to Danny. An investigation of what happened at the explosion is almost done. Initial findings show that a fuse tripped, sparking off the explosion. All of the news reports at the time of the accident said that it was a stupid painter that forgot to turn off a pilot light. Anyone that knows Danny knows that he takes pride in his work and is meticulous and exact at everything he does. That is why he is the best at everything he puts his mind to. I am sure that it will ease his mind to know that he didn't nearly kill himself with a mistake he made, but rather it was an accident he would not prevent by anything he could have done.

During his sedation vacation, the nurse was doing checks on him. She had him open his eyes. She asked him if he could hear her and blink if he could. He blinked. She asked him to move his feet. He moved them. She asked him to blink if he was in pain. He didn't blink. She asked him to blink if he was alright for now. He blinked. He is responsive and not in too much pain for now. I am sure that he has been able to hear a lot of the people that have come to visit him. As always, thanks to everyone that has come by to offer him and his family support.

I am sure that I am forgetting something. While it was a really good day for Danny, I was having a really bad day and hit a wall. If anyone has anything to add, please post it in the comments

Below is a burn diagram that the doctors refer to about his burns. The blue shaded areas are second degree and the red are third. Like we have said before some of the blue areas on his thighs are now believed to be third.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 4

Yesterday, Danny's mother and I traveled to the U Med Center to see Danny's progress. As we got to station #4 (Danny's cubical) we were both very surprised at how much Danny was looking more like himself. The swelling had significantly decreased. His profile was getting more normal and recognizable.

As we arrived, his attendant told us that she was quite sure he was aware of our presence and that we could talk to him and he would know who we were. Judy began talking to him and touching his right hand where it is uncovered. I finally got my gown and gloves on and stood by his left side and spoke. When I told him hi, he jerked a little bit like he was startled. Whether I was the cause of that or it was some other reaction, I don't know.

We saw a diagram of his burns and the worst (3rd degree), are on his arms and then his nose, with a few small spots on his legs. The first surgical grafting will be to his arms. Once the procedure has been done, he will need to remain immobile for three days for the skin to survive. They will keep him sedated during that period. The nose won't be done for several weeks. Facial skin is much different and unpredictable, so a waiting period will be necessary to determine how to proceed. All the second degree burns will be left to heal themselves. How Danny will scar is also unpredictable. The way burnt skin heals depends on each individual.

Next week Danny will be awake and should be talking. The wall of his cubical is beginning to fill with decorations. Catherine's children drew some art work which was the first to be posted on the wall. Of course I had to add something of my own and then Catherine also added some photos of her and Danny. The staff was pleased about that because they could see what Danny should look like. In a week or so, visitors that would like to talk to him and get a response back, will be able to see him two at a time. This Sunday, we will be praying and fasting in his behalf.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 3

Today was a calm day. Not a whole lot of new information to pass on. He is definitely looking somewhat improved. A noticeable change is the amount of swelling in his face has gone down. His eyelids looked much better. Hopefully the eyes beneath are Ok. This morning while we were there, they gave him a shave. I thought it was kind of odd, but the hair follicles on the face are a prime site for infection. He also gets his teeth brushed every 2 to 4 hours. With a ventilator tube in his mouth all day, the liquids have no where to go and just pool around his teeth. That means that Danny gets his teeth brushed 24 to 48 times for every 1 time that Andy brushes his.

Unfortunately he had some of his burned areas upgraded from a 2nd degree burn to a 3rd degree. In his initial assessment on the first day, it was believed that the back of his legs and thighs were only 2nd degree, but as things have settled a little, they are actually 3rd degree.

We expect that he will have the first of his skin grafting surgeries tomorrow afternoon. The surgery will last three hours. Hopefully it goes well. It is becoming more important to get his arms grafted and done with so that the breathing tube can be removed. A breathing tube can only be left in for a certain amount of time before the risk of pneumonia becomes too great and they replace the tube with a tracheotomy. That is a whole new can of worms that we need to avoid.

Thank for all of the pictures and drawings that people have put up on his walls. We are sure that he will be happy to see all of it. Keep the support coming. He will need it more and more in the next few months.